LAREDO, Texas – Prosecutors right here will search the demise penalty for Juan David Ortiz, a U.S. Border Patrol agent charged with killing 4 girls round Laredo earlier this yr.
However ask Patricia Ortiz, an aunt to Nikki Enriquez, one of many victims, and she or he’d be OK if he simply spent the remainder of his life in jail.
“I’m believer in God and I do know God will deal with this case,” she mentioned. “I can’t say I wish to see him die.”
Wednesday’s announcement that prosecutors will search the demise penalty for Ortiz, 35, has cut up households and pals over who needs the alleged killer of the women to die and who needs to see him spend a lifetime in jail.
Texas by far leads the nation in placing convicted criminals to demise, with 511 executions, in accordance with the Demise Penalty Info Heart, a Washington-based group that advocates in opposition to the demise penalty. Virginia is in far-off second, with 113 executions, adopted by Oklahoma with 112.
However the Texas borderlands – largely Hispanic, Catholic and usually anti-death-penalty – see issues in a different way.
Cristina Benavides, mom of Melissa Ramirez, one other sufferer, mentioned she nonetheless suffers from crying bouts when she thinks of her daughter’s slaying and has barely slept within the three months since her demise. She mentioned she needs to see Ortiz endure the identical approach her household has however doesn’t assume the demise penalty is the best selection.
“Let God apply justice,” she mentioned. “God is figuring out. He’s watching him.”
Authorities allege that Ortiz, a 10-year veteran of the Border Patrol, picked up 4 girls – Ramirez, 29; Claudine Ann Luera, 42; Guiselda Alicia Cantu, 35; and Enriquez, 28 – on completely different events from Sept. three to 14, drove them to distant areas and killed every with gunshots to the top. All the ladies had been intercourse staff who congregated round San Bernardo Avenue in Laredo, recognized for its intercourse and drug commerce.
Ortiz, 35, was arrested after a fifth lady fled from his truck and alerted police. He was charged with 4 counts of homicide and has been held on the Webb County Jail on $2.5 million bond. Officers described him as a “serial” killer.
Isidro Alaniz, district lawyer for Webb and Zapata Counties, mentioned at a press convention Wednesday that Ortiz was indicted on one rely of capital homicide for the killings and confirmed a constant “scheme” in allegedly conducting the killings. All the ladies besides Ramirez knew they had been going to die quickly after coming into his truck, he mentioned.
It is solely the second time in 25 years that Webb County prosecutors will search the demise penalty, Alaniz mentioned.
“Ortiz preyed on the weak, the sick, the weak,” he mentioned. “San Bernardo was his looking floor. What does that make him? That makes him a predator.”
Texas legislation mandates a trial in demise penalty circumstances. An arraignment is predicted within the subsequent 30 days, Alaniz mentioned.
In a tearful assertion after the indictment was learn, Colette Mireles, Luera’s sister, mentioned she was “leaning on religion” to get by way of this troublesome time and the emotional days forward of a protracted trial.
“God has the final phrase and God is what offers us the power to maneuver ahead,” she mentioned.
She added: “In my coronary heart, I simply need what’s proper. We’re nobody to want demise on anyone. However we all know God has the final phrase. Regardless of the end result, justice will prevail.”
Karina Ramos and Kristian Montemayor, Luera’s nieces, mentioned they had been cut up on their want of punishment for Ortiz, if he is convicted: Ramos needs him to spend the remainder of his life in jail; Montemayor would favor to see him executed.
Ramos, 29, mentioned Ortiz was suicidal as police caught as much as him and certain needs to die. A protracted jail sentence pondering of his alleged acts is worse punishment, she mentioned.
However Montemayor, 24, mentioned he deserves to die for the ache he dropped at her household and different households. “He’ll be in jail, comfy, consuming thrice a day,” she mentioned. “He would not should be alive.”
Observe Jervis on Twitter: @MrRJervis.
This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: 'Serial' killer Border Patrol agent faces execution, but victims' families rebuke death penalty